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Old 07-07-2004, 10:04 PM   #1
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windows xp refuses to boot


I'm new to Linux.

I've just installed Linux (fedora C1) for the first time and now can't get back into Windows XP.

I have a fairly new Dell P4 machine and recently I added a second hard drive with a view to using this for Linux. Windows XP was quite happy with the new drive until a did the Linux installation (repartitioning the whole of the second drive for Linux) and added the Grub bootloader.

Now when Grub loads I can select and load Fedora no problem, but if I select Windows XP I get a blue stop error screen telling me (in usual vague Windows fashion) that Windows has found and "error" and will not load itself to protect me from further problems. The message then suggests that I try running anti-virus software or remove any recent hard drive installations. "Technical Stop: 0X0000007B"

The hard disks are set to primary master and primary slave in the bios with no bios errors on bootup.

I have tried turning primary slave off, but then Grub won't load as this is my Linux drive where Grub sits.

I have spent over an hour on the phone to Dell support who, having tried all sorts of bios configurations couldn't suggest anything other than a reinstallation of XP, with consequent loss of all data.

I suspect XP is having a problem because it no longer recognises the second hard drive (though when I do boot windows from cd the setup program does see the second drive and its partitions, but doesn't recognise its structure).

Does anyone know a way round this short of repartitioning the windows drive and reinstalling XP?

(Incidently, in an effort to be incredibly modern I bought a PC without a floppy drive, so booting from floppy is not an option)

Thanks in advance.

Old 07-08-2004, 01:15 AM   #2
Registered: Feb 2004
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Physically remove the linux drive and then try to boot, if it boots normal remove anything that let's XP know about the second drive then try it again.

I will advise you that you can save your data by copying it to CDs DVDs and the linux partition from with in linux if you do need to re install XP.
Old 07-08-2004, 05:33 AM   #3
Registered: Sep 2003
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I am not an expert but it seems to me there are probably several possible different ways to tackle this problem. One possibility would be to start up Linux, mount the NTFS partition and then copy your most important data from the Windows NTFS partition to your Linux partition for safe keeping. For now I will skip the details of how to do that and go on to another of the several alternatives. I should add that I feel somewhat hesitant to answer questions like this because there is still much that I do not know about Windows and Linux so my advice could be wrong.

When Fedora Core installed the Grub boot-loader you probably chose the option to let it overwrite the Master Boot Record (MBR) of your first hard disk. In doing so it would have replaced what the Windows boot loader had in the MBR. That is the normal choice and usually works fine. From what I understand the MBR is a small area at the beginning of the hard drive that is not part of any partition. So one alternative would be to have Windows take back control of the MBR and see if it can then boot itself up properly.

Here is what you could try. Insert the Windows XP installation CD that most likely came with your computer. Boot it up and after Windows does some stuff for several minutes it will give you three choices. One choice is to install Windows and the other is to use the recovery console. To try using the recovery console type "R". It should then ask you which Windows installation you would like to log into? You will probably need to type the number "1" as the answer if you only have one copy of Windows installed.

It will probably then ask you for a password. After giving it the password it will drop you off at a command-line style command prompt. You can then type HELP and hit ENTER to see of list of what commands are available. The command you will probably want to use is the FIXMBR command.


Another command that might be useful is FIXBOOT but, you can skip that if you want because I have never tried using it. Afterwords, you might also want to see if the FDISK command is available. If so type FDISK and check to see if your Windows partition is active bootable. If not use the appropriate option within FDISK to make your Windows partition active bootable. After exiting FDISK remove the Windows CD and type "exit" to reboot. Hopefully, Windows will then boot up for you and the Grub menu will not appear.

If the above fails to solve the problem try this next. Insert the Windows installation disk, boot the computer up and this time select the option to reinstall Windows. After several more minutes of Windows doing stuff it should then ask you three similar but not quite the same questions. One of the three options should be to type "R" to try to repair Windows. Typing "R" for repair is not the same as the recovery console that was mentioned above.

If neither of the above solutions work you might just want to install an extra copy of Windows XP. It would probably be better if you did not install the extra copy of Windows XP onto the same partition. I am not sure if Windows will accept being installed onto a second hard drive or not. If so then when booting up will always have a choice of which copy of Windows to choose. If Windows does not like being installed on a second hard drive perhaps you could change which disk is the master and which is the slave and then install the extra copy of Windows onto when is then the master drive. The extra copy of Windows should then be able to access your data on the other partition.

It is interesting that the Dell technical support person didn't seem to know what to do or perhaps he just felt that reinstalling Windows and overwriting your data was simpler and would require less of his time. There should be some way to save the data. I wonder if a Microsoft certified MSCE would suggest something different that what I said. As last resort, if you have an extra Windows XP computer you could probably temporarily transplant the the hard disk into it as a slave and then copy your data onto it. By the way, At home I have various disk and filesystem utilities on "The Ultimate Boot CD" and I also have a "Partition Commander 8 CD". Both be booted and used directly from the CD even when no operating system will boot up. They could both come in handy in some situations like this. Good Luck!
Old 07-08-2004, 06:34 AM   #4
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Isn't it a good thing when XP doesn't boot? It'll make your migration to the free world a lot faster...
Old 07-08-2004, 06:59 AM   #5
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Rick485, feel free to be more confident; afaik, you have pretty much (and pretty well) covered the most common solutions to this problem.

However, what I am concerned about is the most likely reason this has happened in the first place.

If Windows was correctly detected and added to the bootloader, it should (obviously) boot when selected. On the occasions where it does not (and I have seen this happen often to forum posters), a STOP error is even more abnormal than it not working in the first place (what 90% of posters experience is a black screen with a blinking cursor prompt. In fact, I have never heard of a STOP error under these circumstances).

Now the thing about a STOP error is that it means that a critical Windows file has been erased, so critical that Windows can completely not boot (not that something is preventing the boot process from completing; the system is incapable of booting). This could be anything from the NT kernel to the Marlett font (which is critical because Marlett provides the images on the Maximize, Minimize and Close buttons on every window).

But what I suspect it might be is an issue that often occurs with off-the-shelf PCs... the hidden system restore partition.

I don't know if Dell does this, certainly Compaq and HP usually do, but rather than providing you the actual CDs for the software that came pre-installed (including Windows), there is a hidden partition created at the front of the first HDD which contains compressed images of all the software that came preinstalled (including Windows). The information on this partition is called from any System Restore CD or floppy that one may have received (in lieu of a box of 25 application CDs) and used to restore the system to its default factory settings at need.

If you have such a partition on your drive, it is 1) hidden and 2) at the front of the drive and may well 3) be hooked to or otherwise associated with the MBR, which is normally hidden at the front of the drive.

Erasing/Overwriting the MBR with GRUB may very well have "broken the connection" to this hidden partition, which naturally XP would consider essential, thus producing a STOP error.

I can't think of anything else that installing Linux on a completely other drive could hurt in Windows that would produce such an error.

And I can't think of any way to fix it except to reinstall Windows, then install GRUB to a floppy...oh crap-- you don't have a floppy drive.... OK, then reinstall Windows, (or try FIXMBR, but I wouldn't bet on that with a STOP error), then boot into Linux with the 1st install CD in "Rescue" mode, and reinstall GRUB to the root Linux partition, instead of the MBR, then either 1) transfer the Linux boot sector to the Windows boot sector and add Linux to the Windows boot menu (Google for the HOW-TO's, I can't do it right now) or 2) get a third-party bootloader such as Boot Magic (if you have Partition Magic installed, Boot Magic comes with it, otherwise it's commercial software), or check here for a list of free and commercial boot managers for Windows, and use that to boot both Windows and Linux.

Naturally this whole theory relies on your confirmation that you do have such a hidden system restore partition installed by Dell, but hopefully this will help if that is the case.

Last edited by motub; 07-08-2004 at 07:03 AM.
Old 07-08-2004, 10:52 PM   #6
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MBR does indeed seem to be the problem. As suggested, I ran FIXMBR and got a message telling me that I had a non-standard configuration, but giving me the option of going ahead. I did and got a FIXMBR successful message. When I rebooted I went straight from bios loadup to a Dell hardware diagnostics screen. Unfortunately when I closed this down I went straight back to bios load and back to Dell diagnostics screen again, and so on and so on.

I reloaded Linux from bootable CD and put GRUB on the root Linux partition (hdb2). I then had a look at what the setup program saw on my Windows drive, and sure enough it saw hda1 and hda2. So there must be hidden partition with this Dell diagnostic stuff on it as suggested, though I'm not sure which one I should point to for booting XP. Not that this is much of an issue at the moment as I'm stuck in this bootup loop.

I can intervene during bios load and tell it where to go to boot the OS. One of the options is primary slave (my linux drive) and I thought this might be a way round the problem as I could just tell it to boot from slave for Linux, but when I tried it with Grub loaded, grub couldn't find itself (I just got the word GRUB and a hung screen) and when I tried it with no bootloader I got "error loading OS". Mind you, this would not solve the other problem of booting from primary master and just getting a Dell diagnostics screen.

So I suppose I'll just have to have a go at transferring boot sectors, or even just reinstall XP after all. Using the XP boot CD I can get to the DOS command prompt and could copy any important files to floppy -- if I had a floppy drive! DOH! (I did try mounting hda2 but my kernel version doesn't support ntfs, and upgrading is difficult when Linux doesn't recognize my modem (I'm working on that too.)

Incidentally, while in C:\ I noticed that autoexec.bat and config.sys cannot be accessed and that EDIT is not one of the allowed commands on the CD. This is why I want to get away from Microsoft, it's my machine, for heaven's sake! But I need XP now because I can't get online via Linux and even this mail is being typed on a friend's machine.

I'm off for a couple of weeks holiday tomorrow (why?, you ask, when I'm having so much fun at home?) but it'll be sleeves rolled up and down to business as soon as I get back.

Thanks again for the helpful advice, and any new ideas on the subject would be appreciated.

Meanwhile, I think I'll take look at The Ultimate Boot CD -- and maybe a floppy drive's not such a bad idea after all.
Old 07-09-2004, 07:28 AM   #7
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Originally posted by bitmap
I thought this might be a way round the problem as I could just tell it to boot from slave for Linux, but when I tried it with Grub loaded, grub couldn't find itself (I just got the word GRUB and a hung screen)
That can work-- but you would have to reinstall GRUB to the root partition of the Linux drive for it to work. I would suppose that FC installs GRUB "automatically", meaning "invisibly to the user", so you don't get to see what commands were used and how they related to the commands on the Installing GRUB page of the GRUB manual.

But you could choose to either reinstall GRUB manually, or see if the bootable rescue disk has an option to let you reinstall the bootloader, or if the installer would let you do an "upgrade installl"(essentially installing over itself), in which you could skip over all the intermediate install steps and just (re-)install the bootloader.

If you can fix the Linux bootloader, you could at least boot to Linux (with difficulty; that BIOS load thing sounds pretty darn annoying)-- but it looks rather like you have little choice but to use the Dell Diagnostic utility to reinstall Windows or fix whatever it wants to fix.

Hope this helps.


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